Shaun is your man when it comes to travelling during the busiest period of the year. The guy has been doing this for over 10 years, so he is bound to know a thing or two, or in this case 5, about how to make the most of your festive getaway.
1. Try and avoid the crowds
This is without a doubt the busiest time of the year and those that are well organised would have booked their campsite months ago, but if you’re like me you’re probably only just making plans now. Don’t worry, because anywhere you have to book is likely to be crowded anyway.
Look for some out of the way locations in National Parks or in State forests off the beaten track. Take the High Country for example; many of the famous campsites will be full, but there are so many little spots alongside rivers that are unmarked and out of the way so you’ll be guaranteed to find your own slice of paradise if you know where to look. Get onto Google Earth and start making a hit list, or better still go for a weekend mission before your holidays as well to find your hidden campsite.
2. Get your vehicle prepped now
Don’t let your Christmas plans be spoiled by a 4WD that lets you down. Good workshops will be booked out up until Christmas by the start of December, so get in now if you plan to get your rig serviced. If you do your own maintenance, start this weekend! The last thing you want to find is that a part you didn’t know you were chasing has to be posted from somewhere, and you know how busy freight is over the silly season. Not only that but when you make a start on your 4WD you’ll find other jobs that need doing and will take you a lot longer than you had planned! Look over your cooling system and aircon as these two things will be tested more than anything over the summer.
3. Start leaving hints everywhere for what you want for Xmas
Yep, don’t settle for socks and jocks under the tree this year, do something about it now. That BCDC In-vehicle battery charger that you’ve had your eye on or the new recovery kit isn’t going to miraculously appear under the tree unless you be proactive. Leave notes on the fridge, talk about it every day and start laying the seeds right now. Heck, even introduce a ‘family’ Xmas present whereby you convince everyone that something for the 4WD is what your family needs as it will bring you all closer together and allow you to spend better quality time as a family. Good luck trying to get that one over the line!
4. There are no excuses for warm beer
Check your 12V system and the health of your batteries. Do you have a plan B in place, like solar to make sure your fridge doesn’t get warm? This is almost as important as making sure your 4WD is up to the task of getting you to your favourite campsite. Also, pack cans with you as they are better in the bush than bottles and you can fit more in your fridge. To make sure you don’t puncture any cans on your travels, as they can rub through on the aluminium walls and bust if the going is tough, wrap a length of electrical tape around all of your beer cans before you put them in the 12V fridge. This will protect them on your journey, and I’m sure I don’t need to stress how important that is.
5. Take the essentials
There’s nothing more stressful than packing the 4WD before the trip away and trying to magically fit everything you own in the 4WD. It’s not going to happen this year and you’re going to stress that only the essentials will be packed. First, pack the fridge, food and drinks. You’ll need a lot of room for this. Then the fishing gear. You won’t know what to expect, so you better take every lure you own and leave room for the ones you buy just before you leave.
You’ll need to fit the esky in as you plan to turn that into a second drinks fridge and double up as a place to keep all those fish that you expect to catch. Your reclining, double padded camp chair is a must even if it doesn’t fold down well; your family will understand that you need to be comfortable. Take every piece of recovery equipment you own from the high lift jack to the full winch kit as you will probably get plenty of time while you’re away to drive tough tracks.
Cut all your phone chargers and computer leads in half, only city people need electronic devices and you’re heading bush camping. Your kids would much rather spend time with you than play games anyway. Also, start downloading your favourite playlist now as you’ll no doubt be controlling the music as you’re the one doing the driving. Plus, your family will agree that it’s only fair that Cold Chisel is turned up loud and on repeat for that 8-hour drive… ok, you know that’s not going to happen. Learn how to pack what you need for two weeks in a tiny backpack and start practising on your Tetris skills.
I really hope you have a safe and wonderful Christmas. Eat and drink too much and spend time with those that matter. Hope to see you out in the bush!